Navigating The Rapids of Health Care Reform Without a Paddle0

 This article first appeared in Corporate Compliance Insights on March 28, 2013.

“The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.”  – John Locke, philosopher (1632-1704)

In its bid to restructure the nation’s health care system, the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (the “ACA”) has created both challenges and opportunities in the areas of corporate compliance, governance and risk communities. In three short years, myriad regulatory clarifications have swollen this 906-page statutory giant into a 70,000-page behemoth whose might has been enough to overcome the judicial and electoral challenges of 2012, eliminating any doubts as to whether reform is here to stay.

At its core, the ACA means different things to different people. Patients typically focus on the promise of new guarantees and protections for health insurance for the populace, as well as the penalties for those who remain without coverage. But the ACA has also captured the attention of health care providers as they shift from a formerly cost-based system toward one that gauges success or failure primarily on patient experience. Even the insurance industry must yield to the new law and wend its way through a changing landscape complete with medical loss ratio requirements, the end of lifetime limitations, challenges to any increase in premiums over a certain percentage, and the soon to be introduced Health Insurance Exchanges.

While the infusion of elements such as innovation, preventative care and overall wellness provide the Federal Government with a new and as yet untested backup plan to ensure the success of health care reform, plenty of room still exists within the ACA to combat health care fraud, abuse and waste. The False Claims Act stands at the forefront in the government’s battle to preserve the integrity of health care resources, although the law has evolved considerably since first signed into effect by President Lincoln in 1863.  By ensuring the legacy of the FCA for future generations, however, the ACA has also created several compliance risks for companies across the nation.  Here are the top five: … Read more →

Two Strikes and Contraception is Out0

On February 1, 2013, the Federal Government issued proposed rules that may finally end the contraception controversy and its challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s commitment to preventative services, including addressing requirements relating to all FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive ability.

The proposed rules lower the bar for employers engaged in secular and religious purposes, as well as those religious employers who hire outside the fold. The latest version acquiesces to eligible organizations opposed to contraceptive coverage, finally offering absolution from the requirements of Section 2713 of the Public Health Service Act, Section 715(a)(1) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Section 9815(a)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code.  In essence, the proposed rules let these employers practice what they preach. … Read more →

The Affordable Care Act: A Not-So-Little Train That Must0

This article was first published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal on February 25, 2013.

“Things do not change. We change.”  – Henry David Thoreau

Finally free from the uncertainty of looming elections or Supreme Court decisions questioning constitutionality, modern American health care can now be compared to a speeding train serving infinite destinations, with conductors and passengers alike learning the routes along the way. Public transportation is usually forgiving, as the tardy or confused passenger always has the opportunity to catch the next train, but such is not always true in matters of public health.  Whether fan or foe of the Affordable Care Act (the ACA), this epic codification of health care reform is something that America cannot afford to miss.

At the time the ACA was passed in March 2010, by a margin of seven of the collective 431 Congressional votes, few of those involved had any real working knowledge of the 10,909 sections contained within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which were quickly adjusted and finalized by congressional changes the following week in the form of the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. Weighing in at over 900 pages, hindsight makes it clear that the ACA was only the beginning of the federal government’s plan to restructure the nation’s health care system, a fact that has been compounded by an estimated 70,000 pages of further regulations in the three years since President Barack Obama signed the ACA into law. … Read more →